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>Israel Faxx
>JN June 26, 1997, Vol. 5, No. 115

Holocaust Victims Won't Get Looted Nazi Gold

European central banks, not individual Holocaust victims, will get the last of the Nazi gold still resting in Western vaults, officials said. But individual countries could use it to compensate victims to show their concern that gold from death camp prisoners may have been mixed in with the Nazis' World War 2 loot. Ten countries -- Albania, Austria, Belgium, the former Czechoslovakia, Luxembourg, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and former Yugoslavia -- have claims on the gold, which is being held by the Bank of England and the U.S. Federal Reserve.

ADL Doesn't Agree with Death Camp Protester

By Michael Leland (VOA-Chicago)

More than 50 years after the last Nazi concentration camp closed in Europe, an American man says the camps should be maintained as sacred sites to honor the millions killed during the Holocaust. Robert Kunst of Florida says some of the former camps have become commercial or recreational areas, which he says trivializes what happened there in the 1930s and '40s. Kunst recently took his campaign to Chicago.

Kunst hangs a banner in front of the Polish Consulate along Chicago's Lake Shore Drive. It calls on Poland to give or sell the former Nazi camp sites to Jewish organizations, which he says could properly honor those killed inside the camp walls.

"This is an incredible outrage. For example, 4 million people were murdered at Auschwitz/Birkenau, 97-percent of them Jewish and here you have crosses on the gas chambers, people fishing in the pond where they threw the ashes from Crematorium 5, people picnicking, everything is a big party, a great social."

Kuntz's demonstration is small -- two assistants help him hold signs that say Poland should not be allowed to join NATO until it turns the camps over. Few people stop to read the signs, but he will tell anyone who does how he thinks the camps should be maintained as sacred sites.

Poland will be officially invited to join NATO in July, when the organization's ministers meet in Madrid. Kunst is also targeting Germany in his campaign. He is upset Germany allowed a McDonald's restaurant to open just a few blocks away from the former Dachau camp. Kunst says the UN Security Council should not consider offering Germany a permanent seat until it turns over former Nazi camps within its borders.
A spokesman for the Polish Embassy in Washington says Warsaw is sensitive to Jewish concerns about the former camps. The spokesman says the government has met repeatedly over the years with Jewish organizations to discuss how the camps and the areas around them should be maintained or developed. The Chicago office of the Anti-Defamation League says it understands Kuntz's campaign, but adds that he does not speak for the international Jewish community.

Wiesenthal Center Holds Nazi Gold News Conference

By Lisa Schlein (VOA Geneva)

In Geneva, an international conference organized by the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center has called on countries which allegedly profited from looted Nazi gold and other valuables to make amends to the survivors of the Holocaust. Participants at the conference appealed to countries in question to live up to their moral responsibilities.

The Wiesenthal Center says the conference was meant neither to absolve nor to denounce the Swiss, in particular, for their wartime activities. Conference officials say there's a lot of blame to go around.

Wiesenthal Center Director Rabbi Marvin Hier says it's unfair to put pressure on the Swiss government to meet its financial and moral obligations toward Holocaust victims -- not, he says, without acknowledging that other countries -- such as Sweden and Argentina -- also collaborated with Nazi Germany.

The center recently gave the Swiss government a list of 334 senior Nazi officials believed to have opened secret bank accounts in the country. The center is convinced the Nazi money trail will eventually lead to other countries. But, for the investigation to go forward, the center needs to obtain documents which remain hidden in the archives of several countries, including Russia and the United States.

Hier says he believes Russia's archives could shed particularly valuable light on the transfer of Nazi assets to Switzerland and other neutral countries during World War 2. He is appealing to Russian President Yeltsin to open the archives.

As the conference was ending, the Swiss government announced its national bank would contribute 100 million Swiss francs to a fund set up to compensate victims of the Holocaust. The money will boost the fund, which was established by Switzerland's three largest banks, to 270 million Swiss francs. Swiss banks also say they'll publish worldwide the names of unclaimed Holocaust era-accounts.

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